By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Sunday said that it still has to recover 49 bombs (ordnance) that failed to explode at the height of the military assault to free Marawi City from the hands of the Maute Group which lay siege on the city on May 23, 2017.
In an interview, AFP Spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said, as per information coming from 103rd Infantry “Haribon” Brigade Commander Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., efforts are being made to recover 49 of the 70 bombs. The remaining ordnance are believed to have not exploded during the battle for Marawi.
Arevalo said the bombs will have to be retrieved by the winning contractor, which will be in charge of putting up the structures that will replace the damaged ones as result of the five-month war.
He said it was difficult to find the unexploded ordnance, especially if it is already buried deep in the ground.
“These (unexploded ordnance) will have to be retrieved with the help of the winning contractor in the construction of the structures to be put up,” Arevalo said.
“The ordnance were specifically difficult to retrieve because they were either buried deeply or are underneath buildings and collapsed structures,” he added.
“If it came from our aircraft, delivered from air so bumaon po talaga ito [its buried deeply]. That’s why kelangan po nating i-detect kung nasaan, kelangan nating mai-angat na kunin buhat sa kanilang kinalalagyan [we need to detect where it is and retrieve it from its current position],” he added.
Arevalo, at the same time, said in case an unexploded ordnance is found, the process to recover it will not be that easy.
“Recovering it (bombs) requires a tidious process. Kahit pa na locate natin iyan, hindi natin sya basta pwedeng i-unearth [Even if we locate it, we cannot just unearth it],” Arevalo said.
“We still have to observe certain procedures lalong lalo na yung mga, may expertise sa ordnance na kelangan silang makatulong dito sapagkat napakahirap, napaka-delikado [especially those who has the expertise on the ordnance who can help because it’s hard, it’s dangerous],” he added.
The Marawi siege, which ended on October 23, 2017, claimed the lives of 168 government troops (soldiers and policemen), 978 militants and dozens of civilians.
About one million civilians were also displaced due to the conflict.